A parting of the ways

In the Lord of the Rings, a book by JR Tolkien, a group of different characters, from difference races and cultures, banded together in a common goal, to rid their world of a looming evil. In his first book, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, JR Tolkien has the group go through hardships together, celebrate together, fight together… for a time (sorry to ruin the climax of the first book for those who’ve not read it), but eventually, the group, the fellowship is broken.

A couple of weeks ago we said goodbye to our Winter Bible School students. Although it was hard to see so many broken and weak from watching close friends leave, I saw encouraging things too: Heart-filled hugs, groups praying together, some gathered to worship together once more, helping one another load heavy suitcases, someone handing out tissues, and another handing out blankets for those out in the cold.

It is hard to have watched the class of 2013-2014 say farewells and not think of my own departure following my Winter Bible School. Looking back over the past 2 years, I find this encouragement: even though time difference and distance separated me from my closest classmates, we were still able to communicate, to encourage each-other in the challenges that arose.

Each character of the fellowship in ‘Lord of the Rings’ had special roles to play. They started their journey together, but it was when they were apart that they accomplished great things. I think of the early church. The persecution that drove them apart, that drove them from their homes, where they were comfortable, and effectively spread the gospel further.

Each of our students has a future, one planned by God long ago and although this goodbye is weakening and painful, it is only temporary. In the meantime, God has called them on ‘to bigger and better things’, as my family group nephew said to me.

My prayer as they go on from here: That they may shine with the truth they’ve learned here and that they would continue to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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